In the latest episode of VICE’s outrageous Confessions of A… series (brought to you by Rebtel) a self-admitted boozehound and drug addict gives the unedited lowdown on his unbridled consumption of legal and illegal substances. Not everyone can handle their dope and liquor and this guy doesn’t even bother trying. Why should he? His poor suffering girlfriend can pay for his lowlife lifestyle. That’s the ticket: find a meal ticket! He even steals her legit pain medication and is okay with watching her suffer so he can get high! “Boyfriend of the Year” material, he’s not.
Wearing a mask, hoodie, and with a robotically disguised voice, this articulate loser shares the details of his extreme form of self-medication. Thus cloaked, our dedicated devotee of druggy oblivion doesn’t hold back, saying things that no one would (or should) admit to on camera otherwise. You’ll almost feel sorry for this selfish POS, but you’ll probably feel more sorry for those who have to put up with him.
The Creators Project, a global network dedicated to the celebration of creativity, arts and technology has partnered with the all-new Toyota Prius to present the Future Forward event series. To that end, they commissioned a set of original works—elaborate technological installations by internationally renowned studios—to premiere as part of a nationwide event series that launched in Spring 2016. Two events, one held in New York and another in Chicago have already taken place. Next comes the Los Angeles event which will be on display at NeueHouse Hollywood showcasing the work of forward thinkers, artists, architects, designers, engineers and inventors who take ideas of speed, change, and technology into their practice.
A futuristic chandelier that moves in response to heat.
A star-shaped space that envelopes you in metal, mirrors and light.
An organic, living wall that reacts to your motions.
Burton Silverman’s iconic cover portrait of ‘Aqualung,’ the wheezing, shabby homeless man ‘eyeing little girls with bad intent’ who happens to look a lot like Ian Anderson
In 2016, Jethro Tull is one of those utterly amazing bands that is—sadly—very difficult to explain to those for whom they seem to hold no obvious appeal. Although once one of the very biggest concert draws in the world of music—and don’t get me wrong, they’re still a popular group—their fanbase is getting older each year and I don’t think it’s exactly getting any bigger with the passing of time. But for the sake of “the young people” who are reading this I’m going to try to get across why I think Jethro Tull are so great and why they deserve your attention. The occasion is Rhino’s re-release of their classic 1971 longplayer Aqualung, an album that I’m absolutely nuts about, on a 2 CD/2 DVD box set. I hope my enthusiasm will be contagious enough that you’ll give it a listen yourself.
I canvassed some of the other Dangerous Minds contributors about their opinions of Aqualung: Editor-at-large Marc Campbell relayed that he remembered “the scuzziest hippies smoking skunk weed and listening to that piece of crap.” Fair enough. He was there. Our Chris Bickel (who wasn’t) wondered “who the fuck is the audience for this jester-hat-wearing Renaissance Faire bullshit?” while acknowledging that its multi-platinum record status indicated there must have been quite a large one. My wife sees Jethro Tull as the sort of group that “old bikers listen to at keg parties in Cincinnati,” in the same category with say, Steppenwolf and Howie Pyro cited the time when I tried to force their Benefit album on him and how this resulted in “some kinda kneejerk anti-Tull punk reaction inside of me.”
All of these reactions are perfectly understandable. If you don’t really know what Jethro Tull are all about, being confronted with this scraggly-looking comically leering hirsute and freaky Dickensian hobo-sage character wearing thigh-high boots and a glittering codpiece playing the flute is simply confusing in 2016 isn’t it? Don’t worry I’m here to help you. Please try to keep an open mind, won’t you?
Until not all that long ago, I can’t really claim to have had much more than a passing familiarity with Jethro Tull’s music myself. Although one of the very first 45s that I ever bought was their “Bungle in the Jungle” in 1974, for the most part I just knew some of the greatest hits. A couple years back, a publicist at Rhino threw Steven Wilson’s 5.1 surround revisioning of their 1970 Benefit album in the package with something else that I’d asked for. I’ll listen to anything Steven Wilson has remixed for 5.1 and I was utterly floored by Benefit. I had never really thought all that much about Jethro Tull frankly, it was more about Wilson’s participation than anything else that had piqued my curiosity. Because I had no expectations one way or the other, Benefit hit me like a bolt from the blue. I was completely smitten with that album pretty much upon the first listen. My initial reaction was “Wow! How did a group this big never truly get on my radar before?” (Howie’s right: If you came of age during punk, Jethro Tull were simply a dinosaur band you avoided and that’s the straightforward answer).
Jethro Tull, stand up guys
I gorged myself on that album and fanned out through their back catalog. I liked their second effort Stand Up quite a bit and I also got way into their Living in the Past compilation. Their first album This Was I was less enthusiastic about—it’s just a basic blues thing, music they’d already outgrown before its release, hence the title—but the one that came after Benefit—that’s Aqualung—blew my doors off. If you consider yourself a fan of say, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa or even Nick Cave (who named one of his sons Jethro he was such a fan) you might have the same reaction I did: “HOW did I miss out on this?”
Obviously any discussion of Jethro Tull begins—and ends—with the group’s leader, the singular Ian Anderson, a rather brainy and idiosyncratic figure surely seen in retrospect (if not necessarily at the time) as the unlikeliest of arena rock gods. Anderson always read very “old” to me. At the time Aqualung was recorded he was just 23, but what a wizened old 23 he seemed to be. Some people are born old men, I guess, but by this age his lyrics were already becoming quite dark and deep. Aqualung‘s brooding, philosophically sophisticated subject matter included seeing homelessness people and doing nothing about it; how whatever kernel of truth there had been in Christianity had been co-opted by the Church of England and a cynical ruling class; and in “Locomotive Breath”—one of their signature numbers—humanity’s mad dash towards Hobbesian overpopulation.
Aqualung‘s liner notes included the following statement, an audacious sentiment to express in the early 1970s:
In the beginning Man created God;
And in the image of Man created he him.
2 And Man gave unto God a multitude of names,
that he might be Lord over all the earth when it was suited to Man.
3 And on the seven millionth day Man rested
and did lean heavily on his God and saw that it was good.
4 And Man formed Aqualung of the dust of the ground,
and a host of others likened unto his kind.
5 And these lesser men Man did cast into the void. And some were burned;
and some were put apart from their kind.
6 And Man became the God that he had created
and with his miracles did rule over all the earth.
7 But as these things did come to pass,
the Spirit that did cause Man to create his God
lived on within all men: even within Aqualung.
8 And Man saw it not.
9 But for Christ’s sake he’d better start looking.
Here’s a stunning rendition of ‘My God’ (from ‘Aqualung’) performed in front of a crowd of 600,000 people at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival
Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky, 1986.
Most of the time when our favorite musicians or celebrities appear as though they have “sold-out,” we all breathe a collective sigh of sadness. Such as the time that John Lydon shilled for Country Life Butter (the proceeds from which the crafty Lydon used to fund the creation of PiL’s 2012 album, This is PiL. Take that haters!), or when a part of you died after seeing Bob Dylan in a strange television commercial for Victoria’s Secret in 2004. As was the case with Lydon, it’s not always a bad thing. I mean, even I couldn’t hate on The Cure’s “Pictures of You” (from the band’s brilliant 1989 album, Disintegration) playing in the background of a Hewlett-Packard commercial back in 2003.
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam.
But back to the point of this post—if there is a more perfect pairing when it comes to commercial endorsements than badass celebrities and musicians pimping out booze, I do not know what it is. And I’m quite sure that many of these vintage ads will have you checking your watch to see if it’s already noon. However, if you’re like me and go by the guideline that it’s always noon somewhere, then congratulations! Because you’re probably on your second Bloody Mary, rationalizing that it’s okay because it’s almost a meal as long as it’s served with olives and celery. Tons of vintage ads for Jim Beam, Smirnoff, Colt 45 and other party liquids, held lovingly by folks such as Merle Haggard (pictured at the top of this post, RIP), Chuck Berry, Dennis Hopper (seen above with director John Huston), Telly Savalas, and two badass ladies—Joan Crawford and Julie Newmar—follow.
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966.
More celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch (say that in a slurred voice) after the jump…
Have you ever wanted to be able to ask a professional dominatrix anything? Anything at all about the private kinks of the rich and powerful financial elites?
That’s what happens in the latest episode of VICE’s outrageous Confessions of A... series: Wearing a mask, hoodie, and with a robotically disguised voice, a professional dominatrix in NYC shares the details of the torturous techniques she uses to help “de-stress” her high-powered Wall Street clientele.
And if you don’t know what “CBT” is… you’re about to find out. Ouch!
Advertising is supposed to be a creative endeavor for creative people. People who are so creative that they’re actually called “Creatives” professionally. What they actually do isn’t merely described as creative (an adjective), creative is also used as a noun (as in the creative.) They’re creative folks, these Creatives who are creating this (supposedly) creative creative. Got it?
Or are these Creatives really creating such creative creative, after all? As anyone who has ever toiled away in the trenches of the creative field (raises hand, ashamed) can tell you, there is precious little actual creativity that goes on in the advertising industry. Why? Because of the Creatives. Their creative is seldom very creative. The dirty secret of today’s Madison Avenue—listen up, all you would-be Don Drapers—is that creating actually creative creative (on the part of the Creatives, I mean) is frowned upon by the people upstairs. Decisions need to be justified up a chain of command—and clever ideas get hammered into fuckstick shitty ones as the creative moves along the assembly line of the corporate “creative process” (and yes, those are ironic quotation marks).
At the top of the Creatives salary range is usually someone so exasperatingly stupid and ridiculously out of touch that you just want to scream. This absurd corporate clown who wants the soundtrack to be “one of those great old Motown songs!” and thinks that this is an original idea or who wants to scrap something that’s already been shot and edited because “the Moon here looks too much like a 1970s-style moon.” It might be the actual Moon in the sky that this salary-justifying executive plonker is talking about, but this is the level of upper level Creative one tends to encounter in a career spent eating shit, smiling and saying how good that yummy shit sandwich tastes. You play it safe if you want to stay employed and keep sucking at the teat of the Capitalist system. It’s much easier that way, bucko. Wise up! It’s not your “art” and who the fuck cares anyway if every bit of everything that was good gets squeezed out of the Motown catalog to successfully advertise Kellogg’s Raisin Bran?
This is why most advertising SUCKS. This is why most people simply tune ads out. Ad blockers? I don’t need no stinking ad blocker! I got me an ad blocker right here in my head, baby!
But where was I? Oh fuck it…. Well, here’s another ad. But a very creative one. I think you’ll like it.
At the very end they tell you what the actual service or product is or does, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for you.
When I was a boy, Fleetwood Mac were “the enemy.” I just hated their soft “stadium rock” and you simply could not escape them on radio at the time. I was into David Bowie, the Velvet Underground and the Sex Pistols. None of my musical heroes had long hair or beards. None of that hippie shit for me, 9-year old budding rock snob that I was.
Then, as it happened, a few years later I got a cassette tape of their Tusk album sent to me by mistake by Columbia House, which for those of you too young to remember was a “Twelve albums for a penny!” deal advertised in TV Guide and the Sunday paper. Once you got your initial dozen albums, you had to buy like six more at full list price with exorbitant postage and handling charges tacked on. Each month they’d send you a printed catalog along with a card that you had to put a stamp on and return refusing the automatic selection of the month or else they’d send you whatever “popular” album they were featuring and send you a bill for it. (This is how I came to own Ted Nugent’s Free for All, Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs and Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood.) Although I didn’t actually decide to purchase Tusk and as a two-record set with the extra high list price of $15.98 (a small fortune back then) it was an especially galling thing to get a bill for, I had to admit that I was crazy about the title track, which was on the radio at least once every few hours throughout 1980. I had one of those tape decks that would play to the end of one side and then the heads would flip over and play the other. What went from me playing “Tusk” (the song) over and over and over again ultimately became me listening to the entire album over and over again. During an an era where I mostly listened to XTC, Talking Heads, the Clash and things like that, I really got deeply into Tusk. I know every crevice, nook and cranny of that record. I think it’s an absolute masterpiece, sonically, from a songwriting, vocal, production and performance point of view, the total package, it was the creation of a group of truly great musicians at the height of their powers. With a practically unlimited budget.
A big part of Tusk‘s mythology has to do with the fact that it was the most expensive album ever recorded, with the final tab running over a million dollars. It was recorded in “Studio D” of the legendary Village Recorder in West Los Angeles. Much of the outrageous expense was due to the studio being kitted out to the group’s exacting specification, including 72 digital faders and an exact replica of Lindsey Buckingham’s home bathroom, where one can suppose he liked to… think? God knows how much more money was spent on cocaine. Only the accountants and the dealers and the dealers’ accountants and the dealers’ Maserati dealers know for sure.
Last year I had a chance to tour “the Village” and I’ve been in the very rooms where Fleetwood Mac were holed up for better than a year recording Tusk. I stood in the vocal booth where Stevie Nicks lit candles and incense and laid Oriental rugs and pillows. I imagined the exotic instruments and wall coverings, the actual tusks and the shrunken heads that sat around the room. I imagined the feasts fit for rock’s richest royalty that must have been served there day after day. It was a fascinating superstar “inner sanctum” for a fan to be allowed to enter. (And yes, I saw Lindsey’s personal crapper, but I did not use it.)
With the new 5.1 surround mix of Tusk available on Rhino’s new box set 5CD/1DVD/2LP deluxe release of the classic album, you can hear how at least some of that money was spent. Sounding better than it ever has, Tusk in surround is exactly the sonic revelation that I hoped for and wanted it to be.
When I get a box set, I want to lose myself in it. Smoke a joint, sit back, relax and listen to music. Not passively. I want to really get into it. Actively listen. When it’s over I want to play it again. And again. And over again. Folks, believe me when I tell you that I spent all weekend stoned, laying on the couch listening to Tusk to the exclusion of practically all other activities. I played all the outtakes and alt mixes (the way the title number was birthed is worth listening to) and the great live material from the Tusk tour of 79/80. It’s all good stuff and it has some of the more engrossing liner notes I’ve read in a long while, nice packaging too… but the 5.1 surround mix. Oh man. If you care about such things—and you should—it’s a truly peak experience when it comes to achieving an Earth-shattering high fidelity eargasm. “Sara,” the classic Stevie Nicks ballad, sounds like the gossamer and fine lace Stevie was probably wearing when she sang it. Christine McVie’s “Honey Hi” and “Think About Me” are pure pop perfection as is Nicks’ stunning “Beautiful Child.” Although I’m reasonably sure that most of the vocal and instrumental performances on Tusk were recorded individually and then stacked up on the mixing board and diced and sliced by Buckingham, when you hear those incredible harmonies coming at you from all corners of the room, each voice with a speaker to itself, it’s as if you are in Studio D of the Village and standing in the room as Tusk is being played live.
Tusk was always one of those albums that got pulled out for stereo demonstrations at the hifi stores of its day like a cliché, but until you have heard Ken Caillat’s stunning surround mix of the title track, you haven’t experienced the best of how a rock classic like this can sound reimagined for a 21st century audio system. “Tusk” starts out with the loopy drum loop played on a box and builds up to a thunderous and dramatic climax with the USC marching band’s participation taking it all to an outlandish level of sonic excess and gloss. The way the overdubbed voices and layered guitars leap out of the speakers is damned impressive. One is also really impressed by Lindsey Buckingham’s lightning fast finger-picking/strumming style as the 5.1 surround format puts a lot of space around what he was doing. The “wow factor” here is off the scale. I could listen to that one song for hours on repeat.
All in all, Rhino’s new deluxe Tusk box set is the classic rock box set of the 2015 Christmas season. No one who finds it under their tree on Christmas morning is going to be disappointed. The definitive edition of an essential album. A+
Here’s the TL;DR version: If you are an aficionado of 5.1 surround music, run, do not walk, to buy the new Velvet Underground Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set NOW. Don’t hesitate. It’s fucking amazing.
For readers who want a more considered review, read on. Full disclosure, this is a sponsored post, but I can promise you that what you’re reading is 100% the way I really feel.
I had been very, very anxious to hear the newly reloaded Velvet Underground Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set. I’m a big fan of surround music and I am a big fan of the Velvet Underground, so the idea that I would get to hear Loaded, one of my favorite albums of all time in 5.1 surround seemed too good to be true. I recently moved and made a point not to set up my audio system until I had said VU box set in hand. I wanted it to be the first thing I listened to in the new place. For days I watched the mail like a hungry hawk. It arrived late yesterday morning. Around 5pm, I started setting up my audio system, calibrated everything for the new room it was in, etc., and then just as I was about to toke up, sit down and listen, the amp went into protection mode, shut down and an error message told me to “check speaker wires.” Shit!
It took me five incredibly annoying hours of troubleshooting until I found the culprit, a tiny splinter of barely visible copper wiring that was touching between two poles on one of the speakers. I had to remove it with tweezers it was so small. In any case, I mention this because while I was removing the speakers and adding them back in one at time to figure out the source of my problem, starting with the center speaker, I was playing the 5.1 surround mix of Loaded and it was very interesting to hear the component parts of an album that I thought I was molecularly familiar with in that new way.
And that’s the point of 5.1 surround audio, to hear something “classic” with fresh ears, like you’re hearing it for the first time. Well, I just listened to it twice this morning, all the way through, and here are my initial thoughts. As it would be pointless for me to “expound” on Loaded and try to come up with something new and profound to say about it, I won’t insult my reader’s intelligence, because honestly who cares what I think about this classic? (I don’t care what you think either.) I just wanted to give my opinion of “the product” here.
So on the count of “hearing something old again with fresh ears,” they certainly did right by Loaded. The mixes, done by Kevin Reeves at Republic/4th Floor Studios in New York, are very well realized and he’s made some choices—very good ones, creatively, I hasten to add—that I think many a producer would not have made. There’s somewhat of an orthodoxy when it comes to mixing for 5.1 that some mixers fall into—favoring the fronts is how I’d put it—that Reeves wisely avoids. Lou Reed and Doug Yule’s lead vocal tracks are pushed up high in the mix, making Yule’s voice sound more innocent, for instance, while Reed’s vocals are so well presented here that you can practically hear the spittle spraying the microphone. Nuance galore is revealed. The lead vocals often appear “bare” in the center speakers, but other than that, Reeves really endeavored to truly “surround” the listener. The Association meets street corner doo wop backing vocals are given a full sonic spread. The wall of guitars in “Rock and Roll” is MIND-BLOWING coming at you from all sides. “Sweet Jane” sounds so damned crisp and you’re right smack in the middle of it. I thought it was a thrilling ride from start to finish. By the time it ended with “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” I felt like I was listening to the saddest song of all time. (I’ve always loved that song, but hearing it in 5.1 was like a religious experience.)
Best archival release of the year so far, hands down (and I haven’t even listened to anything other than the 5.1 mix so far). If you’re a Velvets nut and into 5.1 surround, this is what you want for Christmas... if you can wait that long.
Portable vaporizers have come a long way since they first started appearing in the marketplace around fifteen years ago. In those days, technology was still a bit limited, so manufacturers worked with what they had to piece together what was possible at the time, resulting in some seriously underwhelming offerings.
Early portables were either too bulky, too expensive or quite frankly - impractical. It wasn’t until about five years ago that the portable vaporizer revolution really began. Advancements in digital temperature control, battery efficiency, heating technology and mobile design sparked a sudden influx of new, cutting-edge portables from manufacturers across the globe.
Today, we’re witnessing unprecedented, sweeping marijuana reform from coast to coast. Even the staunchest opponents of the movement are finding it hard to deny the medical and economical benefits of decriminalization and legalization. That being said, folks in states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational use of marijuana permitted, are flocking to their local dispensaries and lighting up.
However, in today’s health-conscious society, folks are more aware than ever of the negative effects of smoking. It’s no secret that smoke inhalation can lead to serious respiratory issues, including lung cancer. When a flame is used to burn or ignite dry material, dangerous carcinogens and by-products are released from your herb into your lungs through the process of combustion. With the dangers of smoking now being widely publicized, many people are finding it as good a time as any to replace their old pipes and bongs with a new vaporizer. The issue for the consumer then becomes trying to figure out which vape to purchase.
Unfortunately, the process of choosing a portable vaporizer can be a somewhat disillusioning process, as the market has recently become flooded with re-branded, sub-par, cheaply made units that simply don’t perform as advertised. This has lead to many disenfranchised customers, whose initial vaporization experience could have turned out very differently if they had done a bit more research before making a purchase. That’s not to say there’s not some great units out there - quite the contrary. In fact, there are a handful of units that stand head and shoulders above the competition, with the Ascent being one of them.
Built by DaVinci to be the ideal option for vaping on-the-go, the Ascent’s ergonomic design lends itself well its overall portability. Designed to fit easily into any pocket, purse or bag, the Ascent redefines what it means for a vape to be truly portable. The simplicity and discreet nature of this device are overshadowed only by its unparalleled functionality and truly unique aesthetics.
While it seems most manufacturers are focusing more on profits than performance, DaVinci crafted the Ascent with both form and function in mind and created a vaporizer that doesn’t just look great, but works great as well too. Standing atop the new generation of high-tech portable devices, the Ascent features cutting-edge technology coupled with an artistically inspired design to create a portable unit that is second to none. By focusing on the core principles of vaporization, and not “in-your-face” marketing campaigns, DaVinci has gained the support of true vape enthusiasts across the globe.
Let’s talk specifications. The Ascent was one of the first vaporizers to utilize a glass on glass vapor delivery system, eliminating by-products which can be caused from metals or plastics - the result of which is pure, full-flavored vapor free of any impurities. Featuring advanced electronics and heating technology, the Ascent’s long wave infrared heating core is capable of adjusting and maintaining an accurate and consistent internal temperature during the entire course of your vape session. A uniquely designed glass lined ceramic filling chamber evenly distributes heat, ensuring your herbs are heating uniformly and efficiently.
Capable of reaching heats upwards of 430°F, the Ascent gives you option to experience with a wide range of temperatures, allowing you find your vaporizer “sweet-spot.” Just set the vape to any desired temperature via the OLED digital display, and in less than a minute, you’re ready to vape. To take a draw, simply slide the glass stem out of its enclosure where it’s safely stored during transit. Then, just sit back and immerse yourself in the pure, unadulterated vapor of the gods. Since your herbs are being heated below the point of combustion through the process of convection heating, no smoke is produced during the vaporization process.
If features such as advanced temperature control, extended battery life, overall portability, vapor quality/production and value are all things you’re looking for in a portable vaporizer, then the Ascent by DaVinci is a solid option. Check out their website at www.davincivaporizer.com.
In many ways, R.E.M. were always the quintessential MTV band. The group’s first single came out in July of 1981, while MTV debuted but a few weeks later, on August 1. MTV must’ve had a lot of rabid R.E.M. fans working there when they launched, because from the very beginning the band was seemingly always on the channel, a practically ubiquitous “indie” presence on programs like The Cutting Edge (which was produced by their label, I.R.S. Records), Alternative Nation, and 120 Minutes. Their career moves, tours and general gossip about them were constantly chronicled on MTV News. They were usually on the MTV awards shows getting them, presenting them and playing live. I think it’s safe to say that when MTV beckoned, R.E.M. showed up on time and did a great job and made everyone’s lives easier. That’s how a group stays on top for thirty years. To sustain that long of a ride you need to be professional, hardworking, easy to deal with, etc, etc.
As a result of their practically symbiotic relationship, MTV documented practically everything about R.E.M. right up to their decision to disband in 2011. R.E.M. BY MTV, the critically acclaimed feature-length documentary by Alexander Young, draws exclusively from archival events and traces the history of R.E.M. (and MTV itself) in a chronological manner, which makes it feel as exciting and immediate as it did when it first took place.
R.E.M. BY MTV is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 2 from Rhino, and includes some rarely-seen live performances. You can win a copy of the film—and a whole lot more—by entering to win in the widget below the trailer.